Like some nervous poodle

 Posted by on December 16, 2009 at 5:15 am  Characters, Matthew Weiner, Season 1, Season 3
Dec 162009

You just assume I’ll do whatever you say. Just follow you like some nervous poodle.

Peggy Olson, Shut the Door. Have a Seat.

It was like watching a dog play the piano.

Freddie Rumson [about Peggy Olson], Babylon

I honestly wonder if this too was not deliberate, these bookends. Way back in Season One, in the episode in which Peggy Olson became a writer, in the moment that gave us Basket of Kisses, this most horrid and degrading statement was made about Peggy.

And here she is, all growed up. Living in Manhattan, sleeping with a powerful older man and feeling no attachments herself, and drawing the line in the sand with Don Draper.

So is it a coincidence that the writers chose to have her echo this–hurling the insult at herself, the most degrading image she could think up, which just happened to be a dog?

I love this show.


  20 Responses to “Like some nervous poodle”

  1. I started looking for the animal references as a joke & when I found that they hung together I thought it must be serendipity. But there are too many of them to be coincidental & I agree that it must be deliberate. What is impressive is not just the follow up references, but how subtly they are done, including the fact that the powerful older man you refer to has canine history already so to speak. This is such a superb show and repays so much further watching and consideration.

  2. It certainly will look like I'm following Ruth around like a hungry Irish Setter or something, but Roberta, I don't believe in those kind of coincidences either. And that's a big source of my MM luv too.

    I think MW and his posse sketched out an intricate framework for some these characters from the beginning and imbedded moods and attitudes that the writers could tap back into when they wanted to have some fun or when they needed to re-center the character a bit.

    Of course most writers on most shows do the same stuff but MM is so more subtle, almost, (here's an advertising dog whistle so to speak) subliminal with the use of those callback points. That's where the truth lies for me.

    Re-presenting those caricatured details is sooo deliberate and makes for that extra rich, chewy goodness I get from every episode.

    One of the Cases mentioned a while back what great bookends S1 and S3 are, and the more I re-watch the first, it's obvious how accurate she/he was in saying so. I may start dogging MW around now, slobbering after him like a . . . wait for it . . .


    I'll be here all week folks. Hey, try the veal! And remember to tip your waitress.

  3. Hmmm… I forgot about the Rumson piano remark.

    This certainly adds an extra nuance to her comment (which I noted in my "Man's Friend Best" post) that "dogs don't like uniforms."

    Maybe she has some insight I hadn't considered. 😉

  4. Who let the dogs out?

    Duck! (tho I can't remember his dog's name.)

    Obviously no connection, but I'm just sayin!

  5. How could you forget? Chauncey was the dog Duck abandoned.

    I've been imagining Duck feeling hurt that he only heard about the Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce Caper after the fact. Then Peggy admits she was only using him for sex & opens the door, freeing him to walk the streets of Manhattan.

    Oh, well. He'll be far less likely to get run over in traffic. But also less likely to be picked up because he's so cute…

  6. Kisses — the <a>Baha (Mad) Men had something to do with, too!

    It's too early here for me, haven't been drinking (enough? yet?) to make that connection.

    And not_B gets a giggle out of me with the free-range Duck imagery. thanks.

  7. Ooops. the link didn't make it, retrying the <a>Baha (Mad) Men for your listening pleasure.

  8. Hmmm, good observation. Though I must say, I kind of laughed when she said that line because in a way she reminds me of a small nervous dog, though it didn't click until she said that. If she got a perm, which I guess folks didn't do too much in the coming years, she would 100% be like a nervous poodle. It is weird b/c even when she seems comfortable, like the "I'm Peggy Olsen and I want to smoke some marijuana," line she still seemed sort of strange, uncomfortable or nervous or something in her own skin. Now if she hasn't gotten that out of her system by the 80's and she gets the typical 80's perm she will 100% be like a nervous poodle. For a strange reason I'd love to see that, but I know we never will.

  9. I'll also add that I have my many nervous poodle moments myself and I'm not looking on that as a derogatory way.

  10. On the topic of Babylon: last time I watched it, I noticed Hilton was mentioned a couple of times, too.

  11. I was trying to figure out where "nervous poodle" came from. Poodles have always struck me as a luxury dog and since toys are the most nervous, it doesn't seem like there would be many of them in Brooklyn.

  12. Great connection. I hadn't noticed it but I'm sure you're right.

  13. Peggy IS nervous, but it's understandable. Don is not much of a mentor while Joan and Bobbie, although both good at what they do, aren't doing what Peggy wants to do.

    Peggy really tears at my heart — I'm torn between wanting another female executive in advertising to take Peggy under her wing yet also wanting to see Peggy figure this all out on her own with whatever resources she can scrape together.

    There was NOT enough Peggy in season 3. I think Sally had more screen time.

    Looking forward to the spin-off of "Peggy, the Halston years…"

  14. @ 12 brenda- While poodles do come in multiple sizes, it is quite possible she was thinking of the miniature poodle.

  15. John Slattery did a hilarious skit on the Colbert Report:

  16. @14 Oguk to me Peggy seems nervous all the time whether at work or at home in almost every environment, even when she seems confident, she still seems shaky. I think that has more to do with being uncomfortable in her own skin than what Don is or isn't providing as a mentor, also I've had a lot of bosses and few of them were mentors, beyond the do this, do that, don't do this, thing. Being a good mentor is a skill and very few people in my experience are cut out to be good mentors and most people hobble along without a mentor and figure things out for themselves, pick up pointers here and there from the people when it seems relavant , no matter who they are. Who was Don's mentor? Doesn't look like anyone was. He probably picked up some points for style from Roger and Burt and his old boss at the furrier or whatever it was but who in the world would he follow the lead of to be who he is today? In Peggy's case though, she is a smart cookie and nervous or not comfortable with herself or not she will succede just like Don did mostly on her own with a little help here and there.

  17. I love Peggy…see so much of myself in her. As for being a "nervous poodle," remember, poodles are highly intelligent, and as for being nervous…well, being nervous myself, I think it gets a bum rap. In a way, being nervous means you're highly alive and reactive to your environment, doesn't it? It's a basic condition of existence–poke an amoeba and it moves.

  18. I think the references have a lot to do with the fact that a dog can be trained to do a lot of things. Some of them are in keeping with a domesticated dog's nature, such as sitting, begging, rolling over or walking on a leash. Others are not as natural, such as walking on hindlegs or playing the piano. Freddie was of a generation of men who thought that women were not mentally and/or emotionally suited to the high-powered world of business or any other career, except the nurturing ones like teaching and nursing. It was surprising to him that little Peggy could come up with such great ideas and present them well to a group of men. Interestingly, Peggy herself realizes that there is a big difference between being naturally or inately good at something and being trained to be good at it, like a prized poodle. She knows that she has the same abilities as manyh of the men at Sterling Cooper, but that her being a woman makes her talents seem like aberrations or even curiosities. When Don finally comes to her and asks for her help with the new company, she knows that she has some leverage and she makes clear that she does not want to be his lapdog or his trained and obedient poodle. It was a bold move for her, and the observation about it perhaps being intentional to continue the dog analogy is right on. It seems like something the writers would do.

  19. Also, I see Peggy as more anxious than nervous.

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